Past Event

The Global Rush to Foreign Direct Investment Screenings

February 24, 2020
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
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Columbia University, International Affairs Building, Room 918

The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment and the European Institute at Columbia University co-sponsored a Weatherhead East Asian Institute Lectures and Panels event with Giulio Napolitano, Professor, Roma Tre University, moderated by Karl P. Sauvant, Columbia University Law School.

The 20th century ended with a proliferation of global and regional free trade and investment agreements aimed at breaking down obstacles and barriers to the movement of goods and capital. Since the beginning of the 21st century and even more after the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2008, however, things have begun to change. Foreign investment, in principle, continues to be welcome. However, suspicions and fears about foreign investments have gradually grown. To this have contributed, on the one hand, the weakening of traditional financial, industrial and social structures; on the other, China’s increasingly ambitious economic and geopolitical expansionism policy. In some countries, this distrust and fears have been wisely exploited at the political level and placed at the base of a more general neo-protectionist agenda, as demonstrated by the experience of the Trump administration. How is it possible to reconcile the objective of attracting foreign investments and thus promoting economic development with the need to protect national security and strategic interests? The roundtable answered this question by looking at the situation in the EU, the US, and China.

About the Speakers:

Professor Giulio Napolitano has been a Full Professor of administrative law at the Faculty of Law of the Roma Tre University in Rome since 2012 (where he holds a course in Comparative Administrative Law taught in English), after having been a full professor of Public Law at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Tuscia (2004-2008) and at the Faculty of Political Science of the Roma Tre University of Rome (2008-2012). He has also recently been teaching a course in Comparative Administrative Law at the Radzyner Law School of the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel (2016), and the Faculty of Law of Heidelberg University in Germany (2017). He has also taught the Comparative Public Law course at the Global Law School of the Catholic University of Portugal’s Faculty of Law (2018). He is a member of the Governing Council of the International Society of Public Law and the Board of Editors of the European Review of Public Law. He authored a textbook on administrative law for university teaching, now in its second edition (La logica del diritto amministrativo, Mulino, 2017), and over two hundred papers and journal articles published in Italian and international journals on general theory of administrative law, public economic law, market regulation, EU law and sports law.

Karl P. Sauvant, Ph.D., is Lecturer-in-Law at Columbia Law School; Resident Senior Fellow at the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), a joint center of Columbia Law School and the Earth Institute at Columbia University; Guest Professor at Nankai University, China; and former Theme Leader of the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development/World Economic Forum Task Force on Investment Policy. Prior to that, until February 2012, he was the Founding Executive Director of the Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment, the predecessor of CCSI. Until July 2005, he was Director of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD’s) Investment Division, the focal point in the UN system for matters related to foreign direct investment, as well as a major interface with the private sector. While at the UN, he created, in 1991, the prestigious annual World Investment Report, of which he was the lead author and head of the team preparing the report until 2004. He is the author of, or responsible for, a substantial number of publications on issues related to economic development, FDI and services (see: and In 2011, he was elected Fellow of the Academy of International Business; in 2006, he was elected an Honorary Fellow of the European International Business Academy. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1975.